Language & Structure Blues

If you, like some, have had your results and are not happy with them, then this is written with you in mind, because at the end of the day, this teacher knows that one of two things killed you off in the two exams you took in June.

The first would be the nerves. Everyone gets them. Even I do and I have been teaching for 21 years now. It is normal. Try to remember that. But remember the second thing that will have happened on exam day [both times]. If the nerves are not bad enough, then a question on language and structure is enough to make a Saint blaspheme. That’s swear to you. I mean, what kind of government twit put that in the exam? We teachers are not told what the likes of AQA and Edexcel want either, so we are flailing in the dark trying to teach you all the skills needed to answer such a question.

Yes, you know what a noun is, can count the length of sentences and know that the long ones hold lots of detail, whereas the short ones are usually for effect. But this is exam day, when you are on hot bricks anyway, so to ask you to write about such things, is, I believe, unfair.

So, I wrote the following piece with you in mind, using the excerpt from the AQA 2013 English exam, back in the day when it was just one language exam. If you find the insert on their website under past papers, give it a read and then read this, it will make sense. It is entitled, Will Turning Vegetarian Save The Planet?

I asked a student of mine to write an answer to the title of this, based solely on that piece. I shall look at her response tomorrow for the first time, but I shall use my hard copy of this to show her the difference between using the old PEE thing as basically as needed and the need to fill the answer with ideas and thoughts from your own heart and mind. If you have read my other blog pieces you will know I am not a fan of PEE but like to know you know how to PEED instead.

Here it is….

Will Turning Vegetarian Save The Planet?

Task: Answer the question, showing how effective you think the article is.

There are several ways to write an answer to this question using the idea of language and structure. This example does not centre on language or structure, as such, but on the overall effect of the article, which is what was asked for.

The simple [Level 2-3] response to the article question

This article tells the reader about how effective a vegetarian diet is on the human body. It begins with information on “greenhouse gas emissions” and states that by going vegetarian, the “9.2 billion” on the planet by 2058 will be much better off. It uses proof from people like Lord Stern, who believes that “meat is a wasteful use of water and creates a lot of greenhouse gases.” This is why this article is successful in making someone think that it might be a good idea to go vegetarian.

Do you notice the point, evidence, explanation there? It was very basic, wasn’t it?

The more detailed [Level 4 – 7] response to the question

In order for the world to reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases, there are a number of things that either can happen, or need to happen, depending on who you are. Alex Renton believes that the farming of pigs and sheep and cattle is something that “produces more greenhouse gas emissions than every train, truck, car and aeroplane put together.” She is correct in her assumption, according to the rest of the article because she is able to prove her point, using evidence from credible sources. For example, she quotes Lord Stern, a governmental climate change adviser, who believes that, “meat is a wasteful use of water and creates a lot of greenhouse gases.” It is these gases that threaten our very way of life. They make it so that we see heatwaves more, flooding when there was smaller amounts of rain in the past and needs to be placed in check, so as to be controlled more. Otherwise, before too long, we as a global community shall be in trouble. If by eating less meat, or indeed going vegetarian, helps the planet to survive past 2058, then this has to be a good thing. In this way, this article is quite successful because it promotes an idea, backs the ideas up with clearly defined evidence and makes the reader think about what they consume on a daily basis. The language of persuasion it uses is therefore, very helpful to its cause.
       The structure of her article is weighted in favour of going vegetarian, until the middle of the article, and the word, “However,” which always suggests that an opposite side to an argument is about to be shared. In order to create this balanced article, not showing any bias anywhere, she makes the point that to create the man made soya products like Quorn, that replace meat on the supermarket shelves, actually uses “more land and resources than their beef or dairy equivalents.” In this way, showing both sides to the argument, she is able to balance out her thoughts, add structure to her writing, for effect, in order so the reader can make an informed judgement. Because of this, this article is able to reflect on the pros and the cons of meat consumption and allows the reader to make up their own mind. The lack of polemic is good because it is not forcing one opinion down the reader’s throat and allows them to decide for themselves. In this way, this is a very effective article. Would it convince me to eat less meat? Quite possibly!

Which has more detail in it?

What of Language and Structure then?

If you wanted to answer this in terms of language and structure, you would simply do one thing first. Then you would do these things, in order…

1. Locate all good words and highlight them.

2. Make a short plan – split the paper down the middle with a line.

3. On the left, place all ideas to do with structure [sentence & paragraph length, variety, complexity]

4. On the right, place all things to do with language [nouns, verbs, adjectives etc]

5. Then use the W, S, T approach! Word Level, Sentence Level, Full Text Level……a paragraph for each!

6. Then state at the end, how effective it is.

Job done! It is not that difficult when you put it onto the paper logically eh?

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